New Orleans English (NOE) has always stood out amongst Southern Englishes, since NOE speakers do not participate in the Southern vowel shift, and instead display features more commonly associated with New York City English. While these traditional features of NOE are on the decline, this study establishes the adoption of a new feature in the dialect that is similarly distinctive within the Gulf South: the pre-voiceless raising of the nucleus of /au/. Based on statistical analyses and consideration of the social context in post-Katrina New Orleans, this paper argues that this feature is a change in progress which appears to pre-date the demographic shifts following Hurricane Katrina, and which arose independently rather than due to contact with /au/-raising speakers. The social and phonetic findings in this paper converge to support arguments for the naturalness of raising in pre-voiceless environments, and for the likelihood of this feature being more widely adopted within the region. Moreover, the presence of Canadian raising of /au/ in NOE represents an additional way that the local dialect continues to diverge from patterns in the vowel systems found in nearby Southern dialects, and retain its uniqueness within the American South.
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January 31 2020
The rise of Canadian raising of /au/ in New Orleans English
Special Collection: English in the Southern United States: Social Factors and Language Variation
Katie Carmichael; The rise of Canadian raising of /au/ in New Orleans English. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 January 2020; 147 (1): 554–567. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0000553
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